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Scene Title Sentinel
Synopsis On a warm summer night, under the bloom of fireworks, a pact is forged.
Date July 4, 2017

Ferrymen's Bay

They thought it would bring back a sense of normalcy, but for many people, it's still too soon for fireworks.

Blossoms of red, green, and gold explode over the Hudson, mirrored in the rippling stillness of the river. The resounding reverberations of these colorful explosions fill the air and shake the ground for those close to the shoreline. In hindsight, a fireworks celebration will be seen as a faux pas, and the veterans of the civil war — whom in this day and age outnumber those who didn't fight — will have their voices heard.

The blonde man sitting on the hood of a beat up pickup truck, watching the fireworks from a vacant pier in Ferrymen's Bay still sees the beauty and naive patriotism in such displays. Michael Lowell didn't fight in the Second American Civil War, he was overseas for its entire duration, but he is a veteran of a war that had a different front, a war that never truly ended. He watches the fireworks, slouched back so his elbows are propped up near the windshield, legs crossed at his ankles near the front of the hood, squinting just enough that it's hard to tell time has passed. If he keeps the ruins of the State of Liberty out of his peripheral vision, just maybe things are still ok.

"You're… considerably early for our meeting." Between the pop of the fireworks, a man's voice cuts through the echo. Lowell turns casually, sitting up straight but slouching enough as to indicated his relaxed nature. "But, I've always appreciated your punctuality." There's no sign of how Lowell's friend got here, just a man in a dark gray suit emerging from the dark of night under the light of the waxing gibbous moon and the colorful flare of fireworks.

Swinging his legs over the side of the hood, Lowell touches boots down to the ground and stands up straight, smoothing down the front of his button-down flannel shirt with its sleeves rolled up past his elbows. He's off-duty. "Sandoval had a thing, so I figured it was best to just head down here while he was otherwise occupied." The gray-suited man walks over to join Lowell by the truck, briefly removing a pair of dark-framed eyeglasses to clean with a cloth removed from his right breast pocket.

"Have you had any progress feeling Agent Sandoval out?" The gray-haired man asks of Lowell, who offers a noncomittal shrug in response.

"He's dirty, that much I've figured out. I think he fell in with some human traffickers down on Staten, but I haven't bothered to figure out why. He's a smart guy. Obsessive, but…" Lowell doesn't seem to care and his shruggy whatever gesture emphasizes that. "He's wasting his talent, I guess." Lowell looks to the ground briefly, then back up to his guest. "Why'd you want this face to face, Freyr?"

Done cleaning his glasses, Freyr slides them back on his face and pushes them up the bridge of his nose with one finger. "We have a lead I want you to follow up on." That news has Lowell's back straightening and brows pinching together in scrutiny. "We found the girl. It turns out that she's become ward of a former colleague of yours, Avi Epstein."

That's enough to get Lowell to lean away from the truck and look over his shoulder. He snaps a look back to Freyr and seems both incredulous and anxious. "Epstein? That's… huge. Did she get moved in with his daughter?" Freyr shakes his head, tucking his hands into the pockets of his slacks and relaxing his posture. "So does this mean I'm not going after LeRoux?"

"That's an affirmative. The current concensus is that LeRoux is a dead end. We haven't been able to get an affirmative bead on her location in years, and there's a high likelihood that she either died during the war or is hiding out somewhere in the Dead Zone. The latter seems more likely, but if the former is the case then we may never find her." Lowell draws in a deep breath and nods, anxiously wringing his hands together.

"I haven't been keeping tabs on the Apollo teams, what's Epstein been up to?" Lowell tilts his head to the side, and there's an undercurrent to his question that implies he's surprised that Avi is even alive at all.

Freyr adjusts his tie and looks out to the blossoming red firework that just exploded over the river and its rippling mirror in the water. "Ferrymen, transitioning to a PMC called Wolfhound." Freyr offers an askance look to Lowell at that. "Njord believes that the missing money was funneled into Wolfhound, possibly as a failsafe by Munin. Epstein is a founding member, yet he's chosen not to hide the girl under their wing. That implies that he either doesn't trust them, or he's trying to keep her a secret from everyone."

Lowell's head bobs into a steady nod, starting to wander away from the conversation and then circle back, pacing in a gradually increasing tempo. "They money isn't an issue worth wasting our effort over, but Njord wants the girl brought to him. We'd like you to build a surveillance packet on Epstein, full compliment. Then, when the girl is isolated, apprehend her and have her delivered to me. I'll see that she makes it to Njord safely."

All of this makes sense to Lowell, who ends his pacing back at Freyr's side. "This is an important task," Freyr notes with an incline of his head. "You've been with us a long time, Michael. You've learned considerably from Njord, you've made sacrifices and chosen your allegiances. If you're successful in this, when Njord and Hel arrive, I think it will be time for you to finally be bestowed a name."

"But I thought…" Lowell hesitates, a look of bewilderment ghosting across his face. "I thought that without Volken there wouldn't be any more titles? You told me that the Vanguard was dead." Freyr smiles, faintly, and idly buttons his suit jacket closed.

"It is," Freyr admits with a raise of his brows, his eyes wandering from the fireworks behind Lowell to make steady eye contact. "But for as much as you know about us, Michael, for as much as the world knows… there's always more to learn." Freyr nods behind himself to the alley, motioning for Lowell to walk with him. There, under the street lamp, Lowell sees the silhouette of a woman with short gray hair, holding a purse over her shoulder, cigarette in her other hand.

"I think it's time we tell you about Sentinel."

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